Nutrition & Exercise Smoothie The Combination for Inspiration

Happy & Healthy School Lunches

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Nutritious, Delicious and Kid Friendly School Lunches

I hope everyone enjoyed their summer, and the school year is going well, so far. This post is dedicated to healthy school lunches and snacks to start this year off right. You have all weekend to plan, shop, and cook!

I actually love when there’s nothing on the school menu for my daughter to eat. Then I can pack her lunch and know that it will be healthier than:

  1. Cheese and Pepperoni Stromboli
  2. Turkey and Mashed Potatoes topped with Nacho Cheese
  3. Meatball Dunkers with Sauce

It also gives me the opportunity to be creative and have a little fun. With childhood obesity increasing, and the money in our wallets decreasing, it’s a great way to provide healthy, less expensive foods. 2/3 of their meal should be fruits, veggies, and whole grains. The other 1/3: lean proteins. Cut foods up into tiny pieces so they won’t waste time doing it themselves. Foods they can pop in their mouths are fun.


You can basically put anything on a skewer and how much fun is it to eat! Try these combos:


  • French Toast triangles, Peach slices
  • Waffle pieces, Strawberries, Blueberries


  • Grilled Chicken pieces, Broccoli and Carrots
  • Shrimp, Snow Peapods, Yellow Pepper strips
  • Turkey slices, Apple wedges

319383_513793095302963_1937870441_n Live Well with Lynn


  • Roll up Peanut Butter and Bananas in a Whole Wheat wrap
  • Roll up Turkey slices, Spinach and part-skim milk Mozzarella Cheese
  • Roll up American Cheese and Tomatoes

1620478_10201482252074334_980162669_n                 St. Patrick’s Day Lunch


  • Swap plain old white bread and rolls for Whole Grain English Muffins, Tortillas, Pitas, mini Bagels, and Triscuits
  • Swap mayo for plain Greek Yogurt
  • Swap sugary Jelly for Bananas and Berries in Peanut Butter Sandwiches
  • Swap homemade trail mix for chips Recipes:



All of these pictures were from my friend Jeannine Z and her crafty creations. Make lunch fun for your kids and they’ll be excited to eat. You may not have time to do these lunch creations every day, but once or twice a week or even on special occasions or holidays is entirely doable. If you still don’t have time, throw in a silly note, some stickers, a tiny toy or plastic flower, a fancy napkin or use cookie cutters to cut the fruit, veggies and sandwiches into fun shapes once in a while.

jeannine1Valentine’s Day Lunch

P.S. Because I love Kabobs so much, I will add a few more for snack time and dinner:

  1. Meatballs, Raviolis and Zucchini Kabob
  2. Sweet & Sour Chicken, pineapple, and Red Pepper Strips on a kabob
  3. Angel Food cake, Strawberries and Blueberries on a kabob
  4. Bananas dipped in yogurt and then dipped in Low Fat Granola or crushed Chocolate pieces on a kabob
  5. Apple, Brown Rice-Cakes smeared with Peanut Butter kabobs

P.S. My all time, FAVORITE, school lunches. You gotta check these out!

P.S.S For those with a lot more time on their hands then me: Gotta love this one:

What are some of your favorite lunches to make for your kids? Let me Know!
I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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From Couch to Gym: An Author’s Path to Fitness!

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1 Jay Walking Tour Banner

Today, I bring you a special guest. My good friend and author, Tracy Krimmer. She has a brand new romance novel that revolves around Nutrition & Exercise and she’s excited to tell you about it. I loved her first book: Caching In, and I especially love how all her books have a fitness related theme. You know I’m all over that! Because of that, and her inspirational story, I bring you her tale of Positive Change:

“Thunder Thighs, Thunder Thighs. Here comes Thunder Thighs! Boom! Boom! Boom!”

I was in sixth grade and Sal (named changed for some reason to protect the jerk) was the new kid on the block – and apparently thought I was fat.

I grew up in a small town and my parents lived in a tiny neighborhood. Often I would take walks to the grocery store or gas station to spend my allowance on little stuff. Whenever I approached Sal’s house, these words exploded from his mouth. He laughed hysterically. Sure, funny for him. Not so much for a twelve-year-old girl.

elephantI’ll be honest. In grade school and high school I wasn’t overweight. Through my teen years, my five foot two (barely) frame hovered around 120-125 pounds. Most of the weight I carried found home on my backside. It still lives there, having formed a community of fat and cellulite. In my twenties, my weight started fluctuating all the way up to 175 (a little over 200 if you include pregnancy weight).

Sal’s comments bothered me, but never to a point I created a dangerous situation of dieting or not eating at all. I came to terms with my weight and it wasn’t until years later I got serious about my fitness and nutrition. But it wasn’t on anyone else’s terms other than mine. I won’t lie – Sal’s words hurt me, but I didn’t get fit because of one jerk.

If I had to pinpoint when it all began, I’d say 2009. Over the years, I had been in and out of “moments” of working out. I’d commit for a week or join Curves for a month, maybe try Jazzercise with a friend. It wasn’t until my husband introduced me to P90X and Beachbody that I found something I loved.

Fast forward to today and I’ve completed P90X, P90X3, Bikini Body Mommy 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 and now I’m in the depths of Slim in 6. In between there I’ve done workouts with Sharon Mann, Jillian Michaels, Gilad, and a few others. I completed one round of C25K as well. I also lost over twenty pounds doing Weight Watchers and learned so much about portion control.

A lovely chicken & strawberry salad my husband made me.

A lovely chicken & strawberry salad my husband made me.

These days I’m working out and focusing on nutrition. I have a FitBit, which I love, and also record my meals. I eat much more chicken and fish than in the past, and no longer eat macaroni and cheese. I used to be able to eat almost an entire box of it!

A lot of people compliment me on my commitment to working out, but it comes easily to me now. It’s something I love to do and feel out of sorts if I don’t do it, much like my writing. When I wrote my new book, Jay Walking, I wanted the book to be about a mom finding her passion for fitness while still loving herself. I’m well aware I have a kangaroo pouch and I probably always will. My stomach is tattooed with stretch marks, and I really don’t care. I care that I’m fit, healthy, and setting a good example. I can choose to sit on the sidelines, or I can get up off the couch and move. It wasn’t always easy for me, and some say working out isn’t for them. That’s fine. Our passions are different. The most important thing about all this is commitment. Find something you love and commit, and you’ll be happy you did. I promise.

And Thunder Thighs? She’s still here. Just stronger.

jaywalking_cover_loveYou can purchase my new book, Jay Walking, for only $2.99 during the book tour. On August 16th, the price goes to $3.99.


Chelsea Wyatt, a single mom trying to build a life for her and her son, is sick of the body she sees in the mirror. A daily diet of Cookie Crisp cereal is not doing wonders for her mood or her figure, and it’s time for a change. Setting out to get fit, she commits herself to a daily walking plan, forcing herself to give up her all-sugar and carb diet, a difficult task at her donut obsessed job.

But her plan goes sideways when a stumble on the ice puts her in the arms of Jay, an attractive young man out on a run. They grab coffee together, and Chelsea finds herself thinking about him long after their short meeting. The thought of dating again hadn’t crossed her mind in years, and she doesn’t even know if Jay is available, or if he would be interested in her despite her unfit body.

Just when she has a handle on her new routine, her past catches up with her, throwing her blossoming relationship with Jay and the rest of her life into chaos. Can Chelsea hold onto the people she loves most, or will a wrong turn set her up for failure?


Barnes & Noble



There’s also a giveaway! Enter here to win a signed paperback copy of Caching In, the first Pastime Pursuits novel, and a Wilson headband:

Enter the Rafflecopter to win! US Residents only!

Enter the Rafflecopter to win! US Residents only!

Click here for a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Tracy Krimmer:

Tracy’s love of writing began at nine years old. She wrote stories about aliens at school, machines that did homework for you, and penguins. Now she pens books and short stories about romance. She loves to read a great book, whether it be romance or science fiction, or any genre in between, or pop popcorn and catch up on her favorite TV shows or movies. She’s been known to crush a candy or two as well. Her first romance novel, Pieces of it All, released in May 2014 followed in December with Caching In, a romance mixed with the hobby of geocaching. She also has written several short stories.

Find her online at, Facebook, or Twitter.

Thank you so much, Tracy.
Any questions for her? You know I love hearing from you!

Christine Ardigo – Author of Cheating to Survive, Every Five Years, and part of the Peace, Love & Romance Anthology

Both_Books_3D_Facebook_Cover_Art REAL ONE

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Beware of Fake Nutrition Claims on Food Labels

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fake foods

Fake Nutrition Claims on Food Labels

I’m not a salesman, but if I wanted you to buy my food product, I would say whatever I wanted to GET you to buy it. Especially if there was just a news story covering some exciting new breakthrough. Everywhere you go, you see low-fat, low-sugar, no trans-fats, no cholesterol, all natural, etc. But many of these foods never had these things in them to begin with, and many take one item out to put another one in.

All Natural

What does that even mean? A lot of things are ‘naturally’ occurring but would you eat them? How ’bout some Arsenic pie? Yum! But hey! It’s all natural. Natural just means it was not chemically made, but it still can be a product that’s high in calories, or low in nutrients. Ignore this claim.


Many of us are watching our cholesterol, but did you know that many of the products with this claim, never HAD cholesterol? Cholesterol only comes from animals, (meats, eggs, seafood, dairy) so something like potato chips (that come from the ground) never had cholesterol!  What they fail to mention is that the product is extremely high in fat and salt. But hey, don’t worry: there’s no cholesterol in here! If it comes from an animal, it’ll have it. If it came from the ground, it never did.


Low-Fat – Low-Sugar 

Unfortunately, for many processed, packaged foods, they need to make the end product taste good. So, they either need to add sugar, or fat. (or salt). Guess what? When they take one out, they add the other. They won’t tell you that, but trust me, when the fat comes out they add a ton of sugar and vice versa. (I’m still talking about processed foods. When they remove fat from things like milk and yogurt, they just remove the fat). Or worse, they add weird additives, chemicals and food-alternatives to make up for the missing consistency. Stick with REAL food and just eat less of it.


Again, depending on the food, this may mean nothing. Sometimes it’s just good ol’ less salt being added. Sometimes the item never had salt. Sometimes, there is “less” salt, but it can still be very high in fat and calories, like chips. No-Salt-Added or Unsalted → just mean no salt is added during processing, but not necessarily sodium-free. Reduced Sodium → just means at least 25% less sodium than in the original product, but the original product could be extremely high in salt! Here’s a better guide. Shoot for less than 2,400mg of sodium a day.

  • Salt/Sodium-Free → Less than 5 mg of sodium per serving
  • Very Low Sodium → 35 mg of sodium or less per serving
  • Low Sodium → 140 mg of sodium or less per serving


Organic just let’s you know how the food was grown and processed. It can still be high in sodium, fat and sugar. Read the Label.


Multiple Grains

Another claim that means nothing. Multiple what-kind-of-grains? 7 grain bread may sound healthy, but it can be several lame grains that are refined and mixed together. Also if it says “made with whole grains” it might have 1% whole grains and the other 99% can be refined. It must say 100% whole grain, or 100% whole wheat. Look for the percentage and the word “whole”.

Good Source of Something

This is a big joke. Ice cream and cheese  are a good source of calcium, but should you eat tons of it? No. Juices may be a good source of Vitamin C, but it can still be extremely high in sugar AND they might have added the Vitamin C to begin with! They could add calcium to things like waffles, and if you are lactose intolerant, that may be a way for you to get your calcium, but the food itself can be crap. Look at your source. Is that really where you want to get your nutrients from?

Trans Fats

Although companies are removing the Trans fats, and many food labels may claim there are no Trans Fats in the product, there may still be some. A product can have up to .5gm of Trans Fats per serving and be allowed to claim that it contains ZERO! If the words “partially-hydrogenated” is on the food label, you can be sure it contains some Trans-Fats. Also, if they’re taking out the Trans-Fats, they’re just adding in another Saturated fat in it’s place.

If Something Claims Something, it has to have this: (but the product can still be bad for you, as above)

  • Low fat – 3 grams fat or less per serving
  • Fat-free – Less than 1/2 gram fat per serving
  • Low sodium – Less than 140 milligrams sodium per serving
  • Low calorie – Less than 40 calories per serving
  • Calorie free – Less than 5 calories per serving
  • Low cholesterol – Less than 20 milligrams cholesterol and 2 grams saturated fat

Other Tidbits

  1. Read serving sizes. Even those little snack bags MAY contain more than 1 serving!
  2. Good Source of fiber: it better have at least 3gms per serving (5gms is better)
  3. The longer the list of ingredients, the more processed it is. Find ones that have 5 ingredients or less. Or don’t buy it.
  4. Reduced fat products will not help you lose weight, especially if fat is replaced with sugar, and the product still contains a lot of calories.

Still Confused? (I don’t blame you)

For a more detailed explanation of How to Read a Food Label, click HERE and HERE

P.S. It’s a lot easier eating something without a food label on it!  So what do you think?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Weight Gain & Loss….Myths & Truths

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Does the number you see on the scale surprise you at times?

There are many factors that affect your number. Could it be a high salt intake? A high carbohydrate intake? Dehydration? Water retention? The fact is, it can be many things, but when is it ever truly fat gain or loss? Although we fixate on the actual number on the scale, we really need to be more concerned with whether or not it’s true, permanent fat loss or gain and not just temporary water retention or Carb bloat.

If you consume too much salt, you body will be signaled to retain water, which will in turn absorb the excess salt and flush it out. Consistent high sodium intake though, slows or even discontinues this natural process causing you to continue to retain water. Marathon runners or heavy exercisers can lose large amounts of weight from fluid losses from sweating, but as soon as they replenish their fluids, their weight returns to normal. When you wake in the morning after not eating or drinking all night, you body is dehydrated, causing you to weigh less in the morning.

Carbohydrates are another biggie. Followers of low-carb diets experience that initial large weight loss the first week of starting the diet. Your body stores excess carbohydrates as glycogen. For every 1 pound of glycogen you store, you store 2-3 pounds of water! When you go on a low carb diet, your body releases all that glycogen to provide you with the needed sugar but then it also releases the extra water as well. You can lose 10 pounds in 1 week from just water! This is also why, when you go off the diet and start eating carbs again, you re-store the glycogen and all the water too. And then you’ll hear people say: “I can’t eat carbs. All I had was a bagel and I gained 5 pounds!”


If your goal is to lose body fat, the bottom line is for you to be concerned with actual fat loss, not water.

  1. A body fat analyzer machine can best determine your fat, muscle and water composition.
  2. Reduce your sodium intake by decreasing your intake of processed, pre-packaged, canned, and convenience foods, as well as Fast-foods and snacks.
  3. Use an array of spices instead of table salt.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids, and eat 5-9 water-containing fruits and veggies a day.
  5. Reduce your intake of ‘bad’ carbs, such as sodas, desserts, salty snacks, breads, cakes, candy, cookies, etc.
  6. Avoid fat-free products: extra sugar is added to improve the taste


  •  Once you’ve determined that your weight loss is merely water, and only temporary, focus more on steady weekly weight loss that is truly from fat.
  • Keep a food diary and see if you’re truly eating the correct amount of calories.
  • Make sure you’re exercising enough and not eating extra due to the fast that you can because “you just burned off all those calories in the gym.”
  • Normal, healthy weight loss is steady, 1-2 pounds of fat per week, but it takes 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound, therefore you need to eat 500 calories less per day, or exercise off 500 extra calories a day to lose a mere 1 pound a week.

It takes a lot of dedication, but the rewards are priceless in the end.

So, what have you experienced with weight gain/loss?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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HIIT: High-Intensity Interval Training. What it is and Why You Should be Doing It

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Photo taken at 12:58 Register for Rugged Maniac at

Trying to Lose Weight By Doing Cardio?

Not getting anywhere fast? Many people that struggle with weight loss spend a lot of time doing cardio. In fact, the Cardio section of my gym is always packed. The problem is how they’re going about it. You rarely see anyone doing HIIT training. Usually it’s a slow walk/jog on the treadmill, or a casual ride on a bike, and a slow pull on the rowing machine. Rather than increase your time that you spend exercising, it’s better to increase intensity, while keeping the time the same.

What is HIIT Training?

HIIT Training is an exercise program alternating periods of short intense exercise periods, with less-intense recovery periods, in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, rest periods/sometimes active, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time. You can read more about it here:

It consists of a warm up period, followed by 3 to 10 repetitions of a high intensity exercise, separated by slower intensity exercise for recovery, and ending with a cool down. The high intensity exercise should be done at near maximum intensity. The slower one should be about half the intensity.

Most people don’t try it because from across the room it looks so easy: Sprinting for a mere 30 seconds and then walking?  Ha Ha! They laugh. If done correctly, it’s tough and can only be done for a short amount of time. HIIT burns more calories and more fat than the boring, steady rate exercises, for the same length of time!

Ignore those “fat burning’ modes on the treadmill. If walking with that little intensity worked, you’d be melting off the fat while walking around the mall! Also, you’ll have an elevated metabolic rate long after the HIIT exercise session is over.

HIIT basically involves going All-Out, as fast as you can possibly go, for 30 seconds, and up to 2 minutes time, and then for 1 to 2 minutes you should slow down and recover.

To give you an example as to why you burn more fat and calories with a faster pace than the slow, ‘fat-burning’ mode, check out this equation:


Let’s say ASHLEY walked on the treadmill in the ‘fat-burning’ mode and burned off 200 calories. The mode tells her she was burning up 85% fat while she worked out. Sounds great, right? Okay, so if you do the math, she burned off 200 calories and 160 of those calories would come from fat. Woo hoo!

Now let’s say AUTUMN did a HIIT training session on the treadmill in the same amount of time, alternating sprinting and walking. She is only burning 65% of fat though, at this high intensity. You laugh at her and say “Ha Ha!” But wait. AUTUMN burned a total of 400 calories and multiply that by the 65% and it works out to 260 FAT calories. Who burned more? Who got a better bang for their workout?


HIIT Training Examples

Start with a warm-up, then when you feel you are ready, sprint all out, as fast as you can, for as long as you can. Stop running, and then walk for a good 1-2 minutes to catch your breath and slow your heart rate back down. D0 this routine again and again.


Typically, sitting down decreases the intensity, so you may need to ride longer or increase the tension on the bike. After a warm-up, try to pedal as hard and fast as you can for as long as you can. Then slow down and pedal very slow to catch your breath and slow your heart rate back down. Do this routine again and again. Make sure to cool down when you are finished.


After a warm-up, swim hard and fast for 25 meters, then swim slowly for another 25 meters. Try to make every swim-sprint a little tougher than the one before. Make sure to rest and cool down once you are finished.


Yes! You can do this with walking as well. After a warm up, walk hard and fast for as long as you can with long strides. If you are doing this on a treadmill, you can increase the elevation to make it tougher. Then, slow your pace and walk slow to recover for 1-2 minutes. Cool down.

The Benefits

You definitely get great results over a short period of time and it will improve your cardiovascular fitness levels. Talk to your doctor first about your capabilities and tailor it to your exercise level. With intense exercise bursts like this, injuries are always possible, so make sure you start slow, and then work your way up. Initially your sprints can be for a mere 5 – 10 seconds, Make sure you have enough rest and recovery after the workout.

Even without HIIT, the higher speeds burn more calories. For instance, did you know:


Have you ever tried a HIIT workout? What did you think? Will you try one the next time you do cardio? If so, let me know how it goes!
I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Healthy Eating for the Night Shift (and the Day Shift, too!)

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<a All photos by James Leung

Healthy Eating for the Night Shift (and the day shift too!)

Working the night shift is associated with an increased risk of obesity, CVD, and diabetes due to how your body reacts to sleeping and eating at abnormal times.  Trying to master this schedule is compounded by decreased physical activity, excessive eating, wrong food choices and irregular eating habits, which can then lead to digestive problems.  But no fear, here are some ways to dismiss the thought that: this is just the way it is when you work the night shift!

  1. Drink at least 8 glass of water a day to help improve digestion, and to decrease headaches and fatigue.
  2. Do not continuously drink caffeinated beverages and eat sweets. Although they may initially wake you up, it will only be a short burst of energy and then will lead to a major decrease in energy over time, which in turn will steer you towards having even more caffeine and sugary sweets.  It is hard enough to sleep during the daytime, having too much caffeine in your body can make it even harder.
  3. Eat smaller meals more frequently and include healthy snacks. Larger meals tend to make a person feel sluggish afterward.  Before leaving the house, pack up several small containers or plastic bags with quick snacks you can eat when your shift gets really busy.  Instead of letting 5-6 hours go by without having a chance to eat a meal, having a quick banana, a handful of nuts a part-skim milk cheese stick or even a cup of milk, will only take a minute or two to eat, but keep you going until you do have time to eat.
  4.  Eat within one hour of waking up.  If you normally wake up at 3pm, then have your first meal of the day at 4pm.
  5. To help with controlling your weight, if you’ll be going to sleep shortly after work, make your last meal of your shift the smallest, and eat it around 5am. Do not eat a large meal right before going to sleep.
  6. Try to keep some meal times the same.  i.e: if you normally eat dinner at 6pm, when you have off; then try to eat a meal at 6pm before going to work that night.
  7. Move around!  With the decreased physical activity that can occur during the night shift, one can gain weight.  The next time you are fatigued, walk around the hallways instead of eating.  Not only will this wake you up, but it will burn calories as well.
  8. Include exercise in your 24-hour day.  Try even 30 minutes of exercise before your shift starts or before your children come home from school (and after you have slept well for several hours). Sleeping less than seven hours a night can make you gain more weight over time. Vary cardio, stretching, and weight training. Try exercising during any of your breaks even just for a few minutes.
  9. Buy a soft, but large enough cooler to bring all of your meals and snacks into work with you.  With all the right foods right there in the cooler, you can’t go wrong!

Most importantly: with some planning, and discipline, you can achieve your nutrition and fitness goals.


Snack Ideas to keep you going

  • Greek yogurt with fresh blueberries
  • 1 apple & 1 piece of low fat string cheese
  • ¼ cup walnuts with fresh pineapple
  • Baby carrots with hummus
  • 1 tbsp almond butter with a half a banana
  • Cut up mango with 1oz pumpkin seeds
  • Hard boiled egg with watermelon wedge
  • ½ cup of Edamame
  • Cantaloupe with 4 whole wheat crackers
  • Fruit kabobs
  • CLIF protein bar


Packing a Healthy Cooler

Breakfast ideas:

  • Kashi waffle sandwich with peanut butter and strawberries
  • Whole wheat pita with hard boiled eggs, avocado and salsa
  • Greek yogurt with nuts and mangoes
  • Oatmeal package & a separate bag of berries, nuts, & flaxseed to mix in it
  • Pre-made fruit smoothie with skim milk, whey protein powder, banana, berries, and flaxseed
  • Kashi Go Lean cereal in a plastic container, bring raspberries to mix in
  • Flax Roll-up with hard boiled eggs, low fat cheese, and tomato
  • Pre-made whole grain pancakes with bananas, berries, flaxseed and then top with Greek yogurt once re-heated

Lunch/dinner ideas:

  • Grilled chicken in a Flax Roll-up with avocado, spinach, walnuts & dried cranberries
  • Whole wheat English muffin with low fat cheese, tomato, with red pepper strips on the side
  • Spinach salad with salmon in a pouch, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, mandarin oranges, and almonds
  • Quinoa salad with black beans, cherry tomatoes, scallions, cooked broccoli


Instead of leaving the house with just a cup of coffee try this:

Mocha Protein Shake

1-cup skim milk

1/3 cup brewed coffee

1 tbsp natural peanut butter

1 banana

1 scoop chocolate flavored Whey Protein powder

Mix all in a blender, enjoy!


What is your favorite way to combat weight gain at work?
I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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What to Snack on After School to Fight Obesity

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After School Snacks

You packed up that great lunch for them, maybe even a snack, but now they’re home, and they’re starving. I recently had a problem where my kids, whom both have an early lunch in school, and are too old to have “snack-time,” would come home from school around 3pm starving, searching every nook and cranny for where I hid the snacks, and eat themselves silly because dinner was not until 7pm.

Understandable. 4 hours is a long time to wait until they eat again and 2 Oreos is not going to cut it. I decided that they really needed to have a second lunch. I told them to start making themselves a sandwich, have a bowl of cereal, a leftover slice of pizza, or even some soup. Something substantial that will fill them up. Still hungry? Then they can have a snack.

Let me show you a 3 tier Snack Pyramid so you can see what they really should be having when they do snack.


Special Treats means: at that occasional party or get-together. Let these be special. Not a daily thing. When I see people buying BAGS of candy when it’s nowhere near Halloween, I wonder what they’re doing with it.

As for the 3-4 Times a Week: these foods provide very little nutrition but can be worked in with something more healthy. For example:

  1. Pretzels with 2 Clementines
  2. Ice Cream with Strawberries
  3. Vanilla Pudding with a Banana
  4. Vanilla Wafers with Cantaloupe
  5. Pizza Bagels with Baby Carrots
  6. Granola bar with an Apple
  7. Saltines with Peanut Butter

Have an Overweight child? (or adult?)

Here are some calorie and portion controlled snacks

100-150 calories 

  • 1 cup Low-Fat Yogurt
  • 1 Cup Applesauce
  • Sprinkle Parmesan Cheese over Hot Air Popped Popcorn
  • 1 oz String Cheese with 2 Crackers
  • 1 Cup Cereal with Milk
  • 1 Slice Whole Grain Toast with Avocado Spread
  • Hard Boiled Egg with Whole Wheat Toast
  • Peanut Butter Spread on Half an Apple
  • Fruit Kabobs
  • Whole Grain Waffle smeared with Yogurt and Sliced Peaches
  • Handful of Baked Tortilla Chips with Fresh Salsa
  • Scoop of Tuna on a small Dinner Roll
  • Sprinkle Grated Monterey Jack Cheese over a Tortilla, fold/microwave
  • English Muffin half with Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella Cheese

200 calories

  •  Veggies and Hummus or Vanilla Greek Yogurt Dip
  • 2 Brown Rice Cakes & Peanut Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Homemade Trail Mix
  • 1/2 Sandwich with Turkey, Lettuce, Tomato on Whole Wheat Bread
  • Baked Sweet Potato with Plain Greek Yogurt
  • Roll Turkey around String Cheese
  • Banana Rolled in Yogurt & Cereal
  • Pretzel Rod with 1 oz Cheese Cubes
  • Whole Wheat Pita Spread with Hummus or Avocado
  • 1 oz Cheese cubes and Grapes
  • Oatmeal, TBSP Peanut Butter, Berries
  • 1 Cup Yogurt with a Sprinkle of Kashi Go-Leach Crunch Cereal
  • Tomato Soup with 4 Whole Wheat Crackers



Breakfast Cereals – Less than 8gms of sugar per serving(add fruit to make it even healthier)

  1. Cheerios
  2. Special K
  3. Frosted Mini Wheats
  4. Raisin Bran
  5. Wheaties
  6. More at this Link

Crackers etc.

  1. Triscuits
  2. Kalvi Rye Crackers
  3. Whole Wheat Matzos
  4. Finn Crisp
  5. Brown Rice Cakes
  6. Baked Tortilla Chips
  7. More about Healthy Crackers:

Protein Bars

For big kids or little kids, try CLIFF bars. Here’s a list:

  1. Big Kids (like me!)
  2. Little Kids


  1. Dip Baby Carrots & Cherry Tomatoes into Ranch dressing
  2. Dip Pretzels into Mustard
  3. Dip mini-Waffles into Cinnamon Applesauce
  4. Dip Strawberries or Apples into Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  5. Dip Pita Chips into Hummus
  6. Dip Graham Crackers into Pudding

So give your children, and yourself, more substantial snacks after school so they won’t raid the fridge every 20 minutes. Make up for what they didn’t eat in school, and provide good nutrition until dinner is ready.

What’s your favorite snack here?

I love hearing from you!
CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Food Journals: Why They Might Just Be the Ticket to Your Success

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Should You Keep a Food Journal?

Food Journals are a fantastic way to help with your weight loss, and also as a teaching tool. It can be a REAL eye opener if done correctly. Diet is key, if you’re not really sure how much food you’re taking in, it can blow your chances.

How a Food Journal Works

Grab anything you can write on: a spiral notebook, a marble notebook, a small notepad, and jot down everything you eat and drink during the day. And I mean EVERYTHING. It’s a great way to keep track of what you’ve done over the course of your busy, crazy, forgetful kind of a day. There is scientific evidence that people that keep food journals lose more weight than those that don’t. Some times TWICE as much. Mainly because it increases your awareness and your accountability for your actions. It also raises your consciousness and therefore, decreases mindless eating and makes you realize that if you eat something, you’ll have to record it, and then you might think twice about eating it at all.

Are You Telling the Whole Truth?

It’s only helpful if it’s accurate though. I’ve had clients bring me in food journals with all the glowing foods that they think a dietitian wants to see. Lovely whole grain cereals with berries, a healthy salad for lunch, a splendid piece of fish with asparagus with dinner. They say this is what they eat ‘everyday’. That they don’t know why they can’t lose weight and why they are 75 lbs overweight.

When I see a food diary like that, I know they’re lying, but what’s even sadder is that with a food diary like that, I CAN’T help you. I will just say: “This is great, keep it up,” and they leave with no suggestions.

Yes, it’s hard to bare your soul to a stranger (or a friend) and show them all your naughty little secrets. But, these bad habits we can fix!  Yup. That’s what we do, people. We don’t judge. We don’t laugh. We don’t talk behind your back. When we find problems, guess what? We can fix them!  We can make great suggestions!

I’ve had clients that write down fake meals, omit snacks, don’t write down beverages, skip writing down the cheat-meals, fake portion sizes and think they only have to write down their breakfast, lunch and dinner and that everything in between doesn’t need to be recorded. The in-betweens are sometimes the cause of the weight gain.

I’ve had clients fail to mention all the binge alcoholic beverages on the weekends. Omit the weekly large bucket of popcorn and soda at the movies. Fail to mention all the sweetened beverages they drink all day long. Skip writing down any dinners at restaurants because they were ‘entitled’ to eat it. Record what they ate for lunch or dinner, but fail to mention it was at a restaurant where the portions are bigger and came with a few beers, an appetizer, and dessert. (you don’t have to record that, right?)

Guess, what? Write it down and we can help you. We can make suggestions and give you great substitutes. We can talk to you about WHY you’re eating this way and fix it. Maybe you’re skipping meals and over eating later on. Maybe you’re bored, or stressed out. Maybe it’s mindless eating and you don’t realize you’re doing it. Or that you didn’t realize the food was really that bad. Maybe it’s just that your portions are a little too big. Maybe you’re eating low fiber, low protein foods, and all those crappy carbs aren’t filling you up, causing you to nibble every 2 hours on more junk.


Ready to Lose Weight?

First and foremost. Everything that goes in your mouth, gets recorded. EVERYTHING. (Even that one M&M you found on your son’s rug.)

  1. Date: Not just the date but the DAY of the week. Monday will be very different from Saturday. Also include meal (“breakfast”) and the TIME. This is all helpful to see how your day pans out, when you have the most difficulty keeping on track, any obstacles, and if too much time passes between eating.
  2. Food Item: Don’t just write down ‘pasta’. Write the type, and how much. One scoop of ice cream is a lot different than a hot fudge sundae with a ton of toppings. Measure your food if you can. THAT in itself is a real eye opener especially if you read the serving side of an item on the Food Label.
  3. Quantities: Especially for those of you that like to pile it on. Writing down you ate a bowl of cereal can mean many different things. Is it the usual 1 cup serving? Or did you grab your giant mixing bowl and fill it to the top? Compare your portion size with that of the amount on the side of the container, and then record how much YOU had.
  4. Comments: This part will be helpful not only to the dietitian, but more importantly, to you. Ate that entire sleeve of Oreos? Why? Write down your reason. Were you starving because you didn’t eat all day? Did you bring the package with you on the couch and mindlessly ate it while watching an exciting movie? Did you have a bad day at work? Write it down. Now’s a great chance to get your feelings out, too. This will teach you WHY you have certain habits.

What You Can Look For in Your Food Diary

  • Did you eat a variety of foods today?
  • Did you eat 5-9 fruits and veggies today?
  • Are there a minimal amount of processed/junk foods? (One or two a day?)
  • Are your carbs whole grain and high in fiber? (5gms of fiber per serving)
  • Are your protein sources healthy, lean, fresh, and low in fat?
  • Are there many snacks, sugary sweets and beverages?
  • Are your fat choices healthy like olive oils, avocados, nuts, seeds, and real butter?
  • Are there a lot of alcoholic beverages?
  • Are there many meals of take-out, restaurants, and fast food?
  • Did you consume 2-3 servings of dairy (milk & yogurt) a day?
  • Are you listing your portion sizes accurately?
  • Are you including ALL your snacks and nibbles throughout the day?
  • Did you include the top 10 Healthiest foods today?
  • Have you listed all the “Whys” of why you ate what you did & what you were feeling?

All of the blue high-lighted words above will link you to great posts I wrote about those specific topics.


I hope you start a food journal tomorrow. Please be honest and follow these rules. Let me know how it goes, if it helped you realize your obstacles, and if you lose any weight!

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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How to Lose Weight When Food Pushers Get in the Way

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Beware of Food Pushers

You’re trying to lose weight but everywhere you go, there’s people pushing food in your face. “Try this cake I made.” “Don’t you like my cooking?” “What are you, on a diet again?” “Just this one time.” “It’s a special night, go for it.” What do you do when you finally decide to break your old habits, but those around you try to sabotage it? Here’s a list of top sabotagers and how to combat the threats.


If you have one of those offices where someone is always bringing in brownies or potato chips: Have a plan. Don’t let people tempt you. Think about the reason you’re at the celebration, don’t focus on the food. Make sure you eat a big and healthy enough breakfast so you’ll be less tempted. Don’t starve yourself because then you’ll definitely grab something off the table. Brush your teeth after breakfast and then you’ll be less likely to eat. If your co-workers force you, waste time getting yourself a glass of water, HOLD a plate of food, take a small nibble, fake it. Or, my favorite thing to do is tell it like it is. If you’re serious about changing your lifestyle, tell them the truth. Tell them how serious you are. Tell them you have a plan and how excited you are to stick with it. Ask them for help achieving your goals. Instead of feeling deprived, congratulate yourself on your willpower!

office donuts


Make a list and stick with it, is always the best advice. If you don’t have a list you’ll be tempted to go down every aisle so that you wont “forget anything.” Also, if you plan out your meals for the week in advance, it’ll force you to make a list so that you’ll pick up all the ingredients you need. And for God’s sake, EAT before you go, otherwise you’ll buy-up the entire store. If possible, don’t bring the kids! If you must, make lists for them and let them choose one or two things, only. This is a great opportunity to teach them about healthy foods, how to read a food label, and what junk food is. Buy them snacks that YOU don’t like. Stick to the perimeter of the store: Fruits & veggies, (linger in the produce aisle as much as possible – look for new items), meats, dairy, whole grains. Avoid the center aisles as much as possible, especially the cookie/crackers aisle, the ‘warm’ juice aisle (all sugar, not real juice) and the frozen food aisle with the prepackaged, processed, salty, fattening meals.

adam Z

In-Laws and Bosses

You don’t want to insult your in-laws or your boss, but what do you do when you know there’s going to be a firestorm of bad-eats? Offer to bring a healthy appetizer or dish that you know you can safely eat. Fill your plate with all the healthy food. Eat small portions of the fatty, sugary foods. Grab a small plate and fill with nutritious foods so that there will be no room left for their diet-destroying ones. If they are focusing on you, take a few bites and then put your fork down. If they question you, tell them it’s a health issue, ‘doctors’ (or dietitians) orders, or tell them you’ll be happy to take any leftovers home.

Dining Out

#1 rule of dining out: you NEVER know what you are really getting. As healthy as the meal sounds, it may be loaded with salt and oils. First, tell your partner your plan, (you have one, right?) and ask them to help you with your goal. Try not to order appetizers or dessert. Or you can share one. Or order one or the other, and then share that. When you’re at home do you usually have an appetizer or a large dessert? No. So don’t order one now. Your meal will be close to 1,000 calories anyway (if you’re lucky). Order a healthy meal but tell the server how you want it prepared. They ask you how you want your meat cooked so don’t panic about telling them how you want the rest of the food prepared. Stress: no added butter or oils. Salad dressings on the side. No bread/rolls. No salty chips. No alcohol. (Are you trying to lose weight or not, people?!!) If you only dine out once or twice a month, then splurge, but eat a healthy, filling, low-calorie, high protein, high fiber breakfast and lunch. Plan ahead, don’t just go out there and pig out!



Eat healthy and impress your date. Don’t fake it and eat a lame salad to look cool, and then go home and eat a 1/2 dozen donuts. Impress them with your knowledge. Inspire them with your goals. Motivate them to eat healthy too. Pick a healthy meal and modify it if needed. Don’t be afraid, but be a leader, and teach them what you’ve learned and they may follow. (Don’t be a know-it-all nag, though.)

Drinks, Alcohol, Beverage Pushers

For a more detailed post on this, click on THIS LINK 

Bottom Line

You’re in control of your body and decisions. (Don’t we tell our kids this?) Don’t cave into peer pressure. Write out your plans, have a goal and stick to it!

What are your goals for this year? What’s your new plan?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Weight Loss: Will Beverages and Alcohol be Your Downfall?

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How Much Weight Will You Gain From Beverages This Year?

Ahh. Cool and refreshing. A nice way to kick back on a Friday night. Happy hours, get-togethers, parties. What better way to celebrate with your friends and family, right?

Well, if you’re trying to lose weight, it can be the worst thing for you. Something that quenches your thirst can pack on pounds quickly. Quicker than you think. After one drink, all good judgement goes out the door, and if there’s food around, forget it. Stick with a single-drink policy, or non at all. Here’s a list of drinks and their calories, and also a list of better alternatives.

Non-Alcoholic Beverages


Water: 0 calories

Coffee/Tea, with 3 sugar packets, 2 TBSP half & half: 85 calories

1% Milk, 8 oz: 105 calories

Orange juice, 8 oz: 120 calories

Cranberry juice, 8 oz: 140 calories

Cola, 1 can: 140 calories

Starbucks Cafe Mocha, 16oz: 260 calories

Dunkin Donuts, Frozen Caramel Cafe Coolata, Medium, Skim Milk: 450 calories

(Don’t forget my ‘sip-of-milk’ trick)



Alcoholic Beverages

Beer, 12 oz: 155 calories

Lite Beer, 12 oz: 102 calories

Champagne flute: 100 calories 

Wine Cooler, 12 oz: 230 calories

Wine, 5 oz: 125 calories

Wine Spritzer: (3 oz wine & 3 0z club soda) 50 calories

1 oz of liquor: 65 calories

Add in 6 oz soda or juice: 135 calories

LI Iced Tea, 12 0z: 500 calories

Strawberry Daiquiri, 12 oz: 900 calories

Pina Colada, 12 oz: 600 calories

Mimosa, 1/2 o.j. & half champagne, 12 oz: 130 calories

Classic Margarita, 12 0z: 660 calories

MudSlide, 12 0z: 1,100 calories!

Cosmopolitan, 12 0z: 540 calories

Martinis, 6 oz of liquor: 600 calories

EggNog with alcohol, 8 oz: 400 calories & 14 gms of fat!

Kahlua, Amaretto, Schnapps, 1 oz: 120 calories

Baileys, 1 oz: 150 calories and 7 gms of fat! 

chrisspag Photo Courtesy of Chris Spagnuolo

I Could Go On Forever!

Look, the bottom line is: do you want to eat or drink your calories? Drink less of these and you can eat more, OR you can lose weight without really trying. I had a woman once that drank a gallon of cranberry juice a week! That equals an extra 880 calories and week, which can equate to a 1 pound weight gain every month, and an extra 12 pounds on that butt of yours at the end of the year.

I had another client that had 16 (SIXTEEN) cups of tea a day. Tea is harmless, right? Not when you put in 3 packets of sugar in each cup. 3 packets is equivalent to one slice of bread, so she was basically eating 16 slices of bread a day!

2 glasses of wine at night with dinner? An extra 1,750 calories a week and a 2 pound weight gain a month. (or loss if you stop drinking it!)

What about those bingeing weekends? 12 beers over the weekend? 1,860 calories. Finish off a bottle of wine yourself? 600 calories.

How about 4 beers and 2 shots of tequila? 750 calories. Throw in an order of wings and some potato skins? That brings your total to 1,550 calories for the evening, not including what you ate the rest of the day.


Love this from


High Calorie Cocktails vs. Fast Food

  • 10 oz Margarita – 550 Calories (4 oz. tequila, 4 oz. margarita/sour mix, 2 oz. triple sec, lime juice, 1 tsp. sugar)
  • 9 oz. Mai Tai – 620 Calories (3 oz. Light Rum, 2 oz. Dark Rum, 1 oz. Crème de Almond, 1 oz. Triple Sec, 1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix, 1 oz. Pineapple Juice)
  • 12 oz. Piña Colada – 586 Calories (3 oz. Rum, 3 oz. Coconut Cream, 6 oz. Pineapple Juice)
  • 6 oz. Mud Slide – 556 Calories (1.5 oz. Vodka, 1.5 oz. Kahlua, 1.5 oz. Bailey’s Irish Cream, 1.5 oz. Half-and-Half)
  • 10 oz. Long Island Ice Tea – 543 Calories (1.5 oz Vodka, 1.5 oz Rum, 1.5 oz Tequila, 1.5 oz Gin, 1.5 oz Triple Sec, 2 oz Sweet and Sour, 0.5 oz Cola)


  • McDonald’s Big Mac®- 540 Calories
  • McDonald’s Large French Fries- 500 Calories
  • Pizza Hut 12 Inch Medium Pan Pepperoni Pizza (2 Slices)- 560 Calories
  • Wendy’s Double Cheeseburger- 620 Calories
  • Burger King’s Whopper® Sandwich- 670 Calories
  • Burger King’s King Sized Onion Rings- 500 Calories
  • Taco Bell Chicken Quesadilla- 520 Calories

Puts things in perspective, eh? Not much different.

chrisspagnuoloPhoto courtesy of Chris Spagnuolo

For those of you that don’t know me, I don’t drink alcohol. When I got heavily into weight training and changed my diet drastically, I didn’t want to waste my calories. I showed up to my cousin’s house one Easter, where Pina Coladas and strawberry daiquiris were making there way around the kitchen, as well as beers and straight liquor, and I just said no. It wasn’t hard to say no, I knew what my goals were, but the looks and comments everyone gave me: you’d think I told them I started eating flamingos for breakfast every morning. It took a good couple of rounds of questioning, but then it was over. I made it through the night and never turned back. Once a year I’ll have 1 beer or 1 wine cooler type-beverage, but then I always feel tired and sluggish later on, not to mention like crap the next morning. My next day is usually ruined, It’s not worth it for me anymore.

So, what do you think? What’s your drink of choice? What was the biggest shocker here? What changes will you be making?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Exercise: Do You Really Know What You’re Doing?

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What on Earth Are You Doing?

My last blogpost, Why You Won’t Lose Weight From Exercise Alone, sparked the next series of questions: If you are exercising, are you even doing it correctly? My comment about: “I won’t even get into the ones that pig out all day and then casually stroll around the block every evening after dinner,” got a lot of people to ask: that’s not enough? Yeesh.

No, a casual stroll will do nothing. Especially if you’re talking on your cell phone while doing it. Also, slowly pedaling on a stationary bicycle while leaning back and reading a book: Not Exercise. The proper way to know if you’re getting a real, good workout, is to exercise in your target heart rate. A simple equation is:

220 minus your age. So let’s say you’re 47 years old, your MAXIMUM heart rate should be around 173 beats per minute.

To determine your heart rate while you’re exercising: take a quick break, check your pulse and count the beats per a 60 second time period. (or you can do a 10 second time period, and then multiply it by 6.) This chart will show you how hard you’re working. It will also show you how out of shape you are. If a casual stroll around the block has your heart rate at 180 beats per minute, you are Out of Shape! On the other hand, very conditioned athletes may have lower than average heart rates because their hearts have learned how to adapt and work more efficiently. Therefore, everyone is different and you need to know what YOUR max heart rate is, and what range you need to exercise in.

Heart_rate_chart                                       Image Courtesy of 

Range of Heart Rate determines where you should be at certain times. You should not be at your max heart rate all the time, actually it’s impossible to be there for more than a few minutes. But you should test your heart rate to see where you normally are. If you’re always at the 50% range, you may not be working hard enough. If you’re always at the 85% range: is that too high? Or are you out of shape and any exercise you do, drives your heart rate up? You should vary your workouts though, so that some are high intensity and some are low. Mix it up.

Another way to determine if you’re exercising hard enough, is to gauge your breathing. You should be ABLE to talk, but feel that you don’t really want to.


If you’re weightlifting, and don’t rest between sets (and text your friends) you can get your heart rate up pretty high, as well. (Yes, you can get a cardio workout from lifting weights. Test your heart rate and see). But, if you want to know if you’re lifting heavy enough to build muscle, then once you’ve lifted weights long enough to be comfortable with your routine, you can test this out: You should NOT be able to lift the weight or push the weight, for more than 10 reps. If you are lifting a pretty pink weight 18 times, it’s too light. Trust me.

Here is another graph displaying where you should be according to your level of fitness. You want to start slow, but then make sure you make improvements!

target-hearrate-chart      Image Courtesy of

How Much Do You Need to Exercise?

It depends what your goals are. If you’re trying to lose weight, then 1-2 lbs of weight loss per week is recommended for slow, healthy weight loss. 3500 calories = 1 pound of fat. So divide that by 7 (days in a week) and you would need to get rid of 500 calories a day to lose 1 lb a week. So, you can burn (exercise) off 500 calories a day, eat 500 calories less a day, OR a combination of both (eat 250 calories less and burn off 250 calories a day).

Want to lose it faster? Then eat a lot less and exercise a lot more.

If you find you’re losing weight in the beginning, but then it slows down, look at your exercise routine. If you’ve been doing the SAME routine for weeks, then you’re burning less calories now because it becomes easier and you exert less energy. Also, when your body is more conditioned, it gets used to your exercise routine, so you need to do MORE to continue to lose weight.

Or, again, you can eat less. If you’re already eating very little, (1,000 calories a day) then you cannot eat any less, so you will need to exercise more.

As for how long and how many times per week should you exercise? Read this for more detailed information on that:

How many of you frequently check your heart rate? Do you push yourself at each workout? Do you mix it up to get your heart rate up to different levels?

I love hearing from you!

CHRISTINE ARDIGO – Author of Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Why You Won’t Lose Weight From Exercise Alone

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That Damn Growling Stomach

When you begin an exercise program, whether it be cardio, weights, or a class with a combo of both, your metabolism speeds up and your stomach never seems to stop growling. Sound familiar? Ever run a mile, come home, and your brain’s telling you to hit the fridge? Suddenly you’re starving and can’t seem to shut the voices up. Then you tell yourself: “Well, I just exercised so I should eat.” You pop a David’s Cookie in your mouth or one of your kid’s chocolate puddings and suddenly the 150 calories you burned off from your run was negated by an innocent pudding cup.

You run for a half hour, three days a week, with the same run/snack cycle and wonder why you haven’t lost any weight.

You sign your kids up for sports to help them become more active and stop the steady weight they’ve been putting on over the years, with the fear of obesity looming in their future, but instead of giving them a banana and water after their hour-workout, you feed them a 16oz Gatorade, Brownie Bites and a bag of chips. “But they exercised!” you say.

I won’t even get into the ones that pig out all day and then casually stroll around the block every evening after dinner.

Some people think if they exercise they can eat whatever they want.


“I worked out twice this week, so I have a free ticket to the all-you-can-eat buffet.” It doesn’t work that way and it doesn’t take that many calories to overcompensate for the gains you made through exercise.

I worked in a gym as a dietitian for two years. It was a one-on-one personal training gym where you could only work out with a trainer and most members came in 2 -3 times a week for their half hour training session, Then, once a week they came in to see me, get weighed and talk about what they ate over the week. After two years they never lost any weight. Most thought that since they worked out for the big 60 – 90 minutes a WEEK, they could continued to eat however they wanted. Other’s complained of being hungry and they were “Starving to DEATH!” Others (most of them) lied about what they were really eating and after weeks, or perhaps months, finally revealed the alcoholic beverages they drank, the undocumented juices, iced teas, and sodas they consumed, the late night snacking, the hot dogs they grabbed on the way to catch the train home from work, the portions-sizes they were really eating, and the ‘rewards’ they gave themselves every week (day) for working out.

These were educated individuals. Doctors, lawyers, professors, accountants, etc.

Working out 1 hour a week (in a 168-hour week) does NOT make up for the sabotage you did the other 165 hours. If you want to lose weight, stop kidding yourself and lying to your friends and family. You cannot drink alcohol. You cannot skip meals and then make up for it later by binging. You cannot eat ‘good’ all week and then pig out non-stop all weekend, you cannot have a banana for breakfast and then a Big Mac for lunch.

You cannot treat yourself to that ‘one’ piece of cheesecake, that ‘one’ Taco Bell meal, that ‘one’ Dunkin Donut Pumpkin Muffin, that ‘one’ Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Creme, that ‘one’ piece of cake for your co-workers birthday, that ‘one’ happy hour with five beers, wings and potato skins, and that ‘one’ dinner out with your loved one complete with drinks, appetizers, and dessert, BECAUSE at the end of the week, those ‘ones’ become “tens.”

girl named dharon on Plinview moms can cook

You need to make the commitment to change everything. Eat healthy all the time and exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be tortuous. You don’t have to give up everything you love. You don’t have to suffer, and cry and whine like a three-year-old. You’ve had many days, months, and I’m sure, YEARS of overindulging, not exercising, partying way too much, and look where it has gotten you.

Stop making excuses.

  1. Join a gym and find something there you enjoy doing. It’s a measly half hour a day. Go early, late, after work, on your lunch hour. FIND the TIME!
  2. Throw out all the junk in your house. Stop buying it. No one needs it. If they don’t like it, tough. It’s your money, your house, tell the kids to get their own apartments and your spouse too.
  3. Drop your portions by a third (at least).
  4. Find foods and recipes you all love. No one said you had to eat powdered food, packaged TV dinner-type lunches, bean sprouts, cardboard-tasteless meals, or boring snacks. Look up recipes and use your imagination. There is a plethora of foods you can now sample at every type of supermarket.
  5. Ditch all those crappy carbs already!  What are we, four-years-old?
  6. Eat more fruits and veggies. Stop saying you hate them. This is not your mom’s canned peas or your grandmothers creamed spinach. There are a million varieties and ways you can eat them. Like Fresh. And raw. And right off the vine/tree.
  7. If you MUST eat take-out, cause you can’t pour yourself a nutritious bowl of cereal with berries when you get home late from work, then use your common sense and choose the healthier options offered. And get “small.” Not large. Not Super-size. Small. You are feeding yourself, not the extra fifty-pounds on you. Stop feeding it. It’s becoming a whole other person. Starve it.
  8. Reward yourself with non-food items. Like how about praise, and compliments, and self-confidence, and power and strength. You want to feel good about yourself? Stop wallowing in self-pity and give people a reason to look up to you, ask you how you did it, come to you for advice, and damn, let them be a little jealous. Maybe you can turn around and help them one day. Be their Inspiration.




So, what do you think? Are we going to do it this year, or what? Let me know.

I love hearing from you!

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Why Sitting on Your Butt Can Be a Real Pain in the Ass

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P1070714 (This is where I spent most of my summer!)

My friends! So sorry to have been away for so long.

For those of you that don’t know, I published two contemporary romance novels on Amazon this summer: Cheating to Survive & Every Five Years. It has been rewarding and exhausting. The editing and marketing of both books have kept me from posting on Nutrition & Exercise Smoothie. But now that both books are published, I have returned. (For your patience, I have a special deal for you at the end of this blogpost. Stay tuned).

All that sitting though, took a toll on me. For those of you that know me, I don’t sit. At all.

  • I’ve lifted weights at various gyms for almost 30 years
  • I’ve run 5K’s, Mud Runs, and Spartan Races
  • I Rock Climb
  • I played volleyball (briefly)
  • I go to playgrounds and amusement parks and water parks with my daughters and actually go on all the rides
  • I garden like mad, and enjoy a good, deep, house cleaning

I don’t sit. I don’t watch TV.

So, sitting while writing and editing and marketing 2 books this summer, was new to me and I hated it. I also had no time for other things. Like exercise.

  1. After months of not going to the gym, I finally made an attempt back in April, only to find that my membership had expired! I didn’t bother renewing it knowing that I was publishing the following month
  2. I only rock climbed once in over a year
  3. I never ran. No races. I didn’t even walk around the block!
  4. I went to a water park once and it rained :(
  5. My house and car were both gross! GROSS!
  6. My backyard was overgrown with weeds instead of flowers!

And I felt it.

P1070716 (My winter hangout for writing)

I started getting horrible pains in my lower back, in my butt, and shooting down my legs. I never experienced pain like this before. It really bothered me. I thought I had some terrible disease. I tried different stretches but nothing relieved it. Every time I sat at a desk or in my car, pain shot down my leg. It was difficult to sit for more than a few minutes.

Luckily, I work in a hospital with wonderful physical therapists. When I told them my symptoms, they said, “That’s weird,” (knowing me) “That usually happens from inactivity. From sitting around all day.”

BAM!  Realization.

I needed to move. I started walking and standing more. I took the stairs as much as I could. I started riding my neglected bike around the neighborhood for a half hour. 2 weeks ago, I spent a day gardening for almost seven hours and I loved it! Then I cleaned my entire house and my car, too.

With the novels behind me now, I feel better. I’m more active and I just rejoined the gym. I hope to return to rock climbing in Autumn.

I spent last weekend walking across the Brooklyn Bridge with my dad and family. bridge1

This whole experience has taught me something, though. (The sitting on my butt and being in constant pain part, not the getting up and moving around part).

  1. You can’t do everything. There’s not enough time in the day. (Unless of course you spend five hours a day watching TV).
  2. But…more importantly: Sitting is deadly! Get up!

If I could do it all again, I’d have made working out, walking, and just exercising in general, more of a priority. There were times I was so excited about writing the next chapter, that I intentionally drove past the gym, went home, and plopped my butt in my computer chair. But now that the gorgeous, short summer is over here in New York, and I spent it editing, (albeit on my front porch), I want to be active again.

Here’s a great link, (thanks to my cousin Joe at Anastasi Fitness) about the Hazards of Sitting:

And another on How to Undue the Damage of Sitting:

My BEST advice to you though, is get up and move. Every day. At one point I was in so much pain, I thought I screwed something up so I sat even more!  They said the pain was from my bones fusing together. That’s all I needed to hear. I needed to loosen them up and get moving.

So get up my friends. NO more sitting. Get those muscles and bones unfused and do something now.


Have you ever experienced pain, from sitting too much? Let me know.

I love hearing from you!

P.S.  I’m giving you a special deal for all your support and patience while you waited for a new post. My first Novel, Cheating to Survive,  if you would like to read it, is on sale this week (August 25 – August 29th) for only 99 cents. Book 2, Every Five Years, is only $3.99. Grab both for $4.98. Enjoy. And thanks again. Love you guys!

Cheating to Survive – 99 cents –

Every Five Years – $3.99 –

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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How to Easily Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

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plant based diet

By Christine Ardigo MSRD

Vegan, Vegetarian, Lacto-Ovo, Raw Foods, where do you begin?

I receive many questions about going meatless. But when people tell me they stopped eating meat, I see them eating brownies and chips instead. “But it’s meatless,” they’ll say. Um, no. That’s not how it goes. I also have a lot of people tell me that when they went meat-free they were always hungry so they munched on carbs all day long, which in turn just left them hungrier. If you’re making the switch to a completely meat-free diet, then I’m hoping your overall goal is to eat healthier. Yes, it’s confusing. Where do you begin?

Ahh, my friends, I have that answer for you today! Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to Holly Zyquierdo. I became friendly with Holly recently and was thrilled to have her guest post about how she transitioned her family to a Plant-Based diet. She has a great story to tell about why and how she changed, and the best part: she created a fantastic 79 page book The Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide. It has tips on on getting started, what to eat, sample meal plans, and of course: delicious recipes for you to try! Take It Away Holly!

holly Q

The Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide: How to Cook, Shop, and Eat Well

How it Began

A few years ago I was sick. My whole body hurt, I always felt bad, and I began having some pretty severe bladder problems. I can speak boldly about this now but at the time I felt very isolated. In desperation I searched for answers but I didn’t find them. Even the specialists were unable to “fix” me.

Then I discovered a different kind of solution. It wasn’t a drug or procedure. It was food, real, whole food.

Getting Healthy

I began a whole food, plant-based diet and within two months my symptoms were gone. My painful bladder problems and joint pain disappeared. I also lost weight without trying. My husband got healthier also. He lost 50 pounds and no longer needs medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux or asthma.

A Blog was Born

The hardest part of our lifestyle change was getting started. We were determined but we had a really hard time finding resources. In the early days, I didn’t even know to google, “plant-based diet” so I started a blog, My Plant-Based Family, to document our journey. Eventually I was able to help others get healthier by ditching processed and unhealthy foods. I wanted so badly to be able to put an easy to read resource in their hands so I wrote The Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide: How to Cook, Shop and Eat Well.

The Plant-Based Diet Starter Guide is an ebook and available as a PDF download or on Amazon for $5.99.

About the Book

plant based diet

The ebook is perfect for anyone wanting to eat healthier, especially those trying to add more fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes to their diet. I leave the science to the doctors and focus on the real “how to’s” of making a diet change work including how to shop, cook, and meal plan.

I also offer encouragement for families who are striving to make healthier choices, especially for those with family members who are not receptive to diet change.

To wrap it up I’ve included a collection of our favorite tried and true recipes. These are the recipes I hear rave reviews about over and over again.

If you’d like to purchase the PDF version I’m offering a coupon code for 25% off for a limited time. Use the code INEEDTHISBOOK

I also create allergy-friendly recipes and free weekly Meal Plans at My Plant-Based Family. For those with specialty diets I also create Custom Meal Plans that look at your individual preferences (taste, time, expense) and create a personalize Meal Plan just for you.

Soon I’ll launch a new endeavor that will help families who have recently been diagnosed with food allergies.

Holly Yzquierdo is a plant-based food blogger and food allergy advocate. She creates incredible recipes that are easy, delicious, and allergy-friendly. Read more at My Plant-Based Family. Follow her on FacebookTwitter, PinterestGoogle+ and Instagram.


So there you go! Everything you need to know to get started on your way to a healthier summer. Spend the weekend purchasing new foods and try some new recipes. If you go meatless, make sure you eat foods that are healthy, high in fiber and will keep you full.

Do any of you already eat a plant-based diet? What were your obstacles? Do you feel better now? What are your favorite recipes?

I hope you check out Holly’s book and let me know what you think. If you try any of her recipes, let us know.

I love hearing from you!

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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Cut the Salt, Kick up the Taste Challenge!

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Are you Up for the Challenge? 

I would like to introduce you to Bonnie Giller  ★ Weight Loss Expert-Mindful Eating Coach★ Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor ★ Diabetes Management Specialist ★


She has a Challenge for you and I hope you take her up on it. It’s easy, free and just another small step you can take to improve your health. Take it away Bonnie:


Should you take note of how much sodium you are consuming daily?

Many people believe that they do not have to worry about the sodium content in the foods they choose to eat unless they have health issues such as heart disease or high blood pressure.

Don’t be fooled! The truth is that most people are consuming sodium at levels way above recommended daily values.

Consuming too much sodium can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

You may be thinking that it is too hard to give up the salt shaker.  You are concerned that food will become tasteless and bland.  No need to worry! Nature has given us a wide variety of spices and herbs to add to your plate that will not only increase variety and flavor to your meals, but also add health benefits!


Join the 30 Day Cut your Salt Challenge that starts May 1st!


This challenge will help you BREAK YOUR SALT HABIT, improve your health, AND increase the PLEASURE of your eating experience.

Each day, you will receive an email containing info on the Spice or Herb of the Day and a simple way to use the spice or herb for that particular day.  Feel free to use your own recipes, spices, and herbs already in your cabinet as well!

It is totally free to sign up. There will also be prizes and added bonuses for participant

So what do you have to lose except your salt habit?

Sign Up Here today for more details.  Are you up for the challenge?

Spread the word and tell your family and friends too!

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